November 2013 - Parks & Recreation - 25

Member to Member
Renewing One of the Nation's
Largest Public Dog Parks
A Colorado park agency restores a valuable public space based on visitor feedback
By William Lebzelter

U

nleashed adventure over 107 acres in the Rocky Mountain foothills for
dogs and their two-legged companions. That's the appeal of the Elk
Meadow Park Dog Off-Leash Area in Evergreen, Colorado - an appeal that grew so strong that the dog park was in danger of being loved to death.
In the early 1990s, Jefferson County Open Space (JCOS) set aside a small,
undeveloped training ground for dogs across the road from 1,657-acre Elk
Meadow Park. As word spread of the one place in the JCOS system where
dogs could be off leash, the park mushroomed in size and popularity. Two
fenced areas were built, then a tangle of unsustainable paths developed, creating heavy erosion, hazards and confusion for visitors. Nearby landowners complained of trespassing, trash and conflicts between dogs. By 2011, it was time for
fresh solutions.
lowed. The day after the path along
the private property was closed, wildlife returned to the area.

Rachel Murray/www.rachelmurrayphotography.com

" We wanted to build on what has
made the dog park so popular with
visitors while protecting natural resources and being sensitive to the
concerns of our neighbors, " says
Tom Hoby, who became director of
Jefferson County Parks and Open
Space in 2010.
Through site visits and an open
house, JCOS staff gleaned park visitors' insights and opinions. Trail and
park management plans were developed to provide for safe and enjoyable experiences.
In a park inventory, five miles of informal, erosive paths with haphazard
stream crossings were documented.
To study user patterns, motion-sensitive wildlife cameras were installed
along a path that closely paralleled
private property lines and near the
border of adjoining JCOS land with
a wildlife conservation easement,
where unleashed dogs are not al-

Just up the hill from the closed path,
JCOS built a 0.8-mile crusher fine
trail to provide a gentle trail experience with astounding views of nearby
14,265-foot Mount Evans. The trail
meets Americans with Disabilities Act
standards with grades of five percent
or less. Volunteers pitched in to groom
the trail, which opened in 2011.
The bulk of the trail construction
took place in 2012. Eleven stream
crossings were winnowed to three safe,
visually appealing crossings that meet
stormwater regulations. The loop trail
in the western section, popular with
avid hikers, was realigned to extend no

With 107 acres of open space to explore, canine visitors to Elk Meadow Park Dog OffLeash Area have more than enough room to roam.

W W W. N R PA . O R G | N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 3 |

Parks & Recreation

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November 2013 - Parks & Recreation

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of November 2013 - Parks & Recreation

November 2013 - Parks & Recreation - 1
November 2013 - Parks & Recreation - 2
November 2013 - Parks & Recreation - 3
November 2013 - Parks & Recreation - 4
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